Fail, Survive, or Thrive

January 25, 2024 @ 12:00am

It has been a hot second since I have posted to the blog. Between school, expansion, and crazy growth, the blog had simply fallen to the back burner. By the way, I graduated in June! Woot Woot! However, here I am! Ready to share an idea that I brought to Governor Evers and Secretary Johnson yesterday. But let’s back up a minute so I can explain how I got here. 

I love strategy, creating, thinking outside of the box, and solving problems. That is my jive and where I thrive. And in public health, family planning, and maternal child health, there is no lack of problems to solve and strategies to create. Metrics show that the needle is not moving in so many areas that are crucial to the health and well-being of marginalized, underserved, and forgotten populations. Whether it be STI rates, suicide rates, mental health scores, cervical cancer, or pregnancy planning. We need to find a way to bend, to be nimble, and to be proactive. That is where re-imagining comes in. 

So fast forward a bit; early this week, I was invited to sit at a Women’s Reproductive Health Roundtable in Wausau with Governor Evers and Secretary Johnson. And you can bet I jumped on that opportunity as soon as it was presented. Reproductive health is my life and I had so much I wanted to share and advocate for on behalf of

January 19, 2023 @ 12:00am

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from writing this blog. The holidays came. I took 11 days off to write a literature review for my doctoral study and rest a bit. The past year has been intense. Running a business, raising a family, and going to school for a doctorate is not for the faint of hearts. But I push myself continually and work to obtain my highest of standards. With all of that though, sometimes a break is good.

December 22, 2022 @ 12:00am

Here we go again. Another judge issuing irrational decisions despite case after case justifying the contrary. So where is this one going, if you guessed, and guessed another attack on reproductive rights, you were correct. Any guesses on what state it is coming out of? If you said Texas, you would be correct again.

December 19, 2022 @ 12:00am

I have really struggled to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it is because of the stress that goes with it and the current stress I am feeling. Maybe it is because of the craziness of this year. Between the Dobbs decision and the current political environment, it has been one hell of a fight this year. But the more a reminisced the more I thought, maybe I have been in the spirit this entire year. On the front lines giving to our communities by fighting this fight. By speaking up and giving others a voice. Correcting misinformation, educating, and standing on this hill ready to protect it with all I have got. This year has been about forces bigger than me, but I have continued to fight through the pure exhaustion and atrocities that are occurring. That is a gift worth giving.

December 16, 2022 @ 12:00am

As many may know, I often say rules are meant to be broken. But when you create the rules, you have to follow the rules you created. Seems like an easy concept, but dang is it difficult sometimes. To protect the safety of our staff and clients, Healthfirst has strict testing guidelines for employees with respiratory illnesses. Especially right now! What once was just Coivd testing is now RSV and influenza as well.

December 12, 2022 @ 12:00am

The elephant in the room…crisis pregnancy centers. This is a really difficult topic for me to write about. We have shared a ton of information regarding them post Dobbs on social media. And they continue to pop up all over. Here to “save the world” and “help women facing unintended pregnancies.” They infuriate me, they frustrate me, and most of all they are harming people in our communities.

December 05, 2022 @ 12:00am

I do not know about anyone else, but I was raised with the work ethic that you go to work, unless something catastrophic occurs. And that is a mindset that has been engrained in me for years. But then this sneaky little pest called Covid showed up-and that mindset has been challenged. Cough, sniffles, congestion, fever, sore throat…. what do we do? Do you get tested? Do you wait a few days? Maybe a mask will suffice?

December 02, 2022 @ 12:00am

It is still winter here in Wisconsin and will be for another four to five months. But even in the snow and cold there are important lessons to learn. Everyone morning I drop my boys off at the before school program in Mosinee on my way to work. It is located within the elementary school, which is super convenient. As we walked up to the building this morning, I told the boys to be careful because it looked icy. When we got closer it was definitely icy. Right outside of the door was a large patch that had not been salted.

November 28, 2022 @ 12:00am

Reading through some paperwork this morning around Title X policies, and the language is driving me up the wall. Over and over, I see cultural competence this and cultural competence that. Cultural competence indicates an endpoint. It means that one can gain knowledge to master and be all knowing of a culture. That is not possible. Flat out and straight forward, you, I, and everyone in between cannot be competent in or a master of another’s culture. Cultural competence is nothing more than a cookie cutter approach that leads to stereotyping. But cultural humility, my friends, is where it is at!

November 23, 2022 @ 12:00am

As leaders, we are busy all of the time. There is always something going on and work to be done. If there isn’t we are not growing and thriving. However, that busyness often flows outside of the walls we normally work in, following us wherever we go. Now, some that are closest to me will laugh when they read this but finding balance between work and life is essential to maintaining yourself. I for one, have not quite found that balance and often find myself working and putting in time when I should not. But Healthfirst is thriving, and I cannot lose that momentum.

About the Author


Jessie Scharfenberg

Jessica Scharfenberg is a nurse by trade but leader by nature. After completing her BSN at Edgewood College, she moved to rural South Dakota, working as a nurse at a critical access hospital near two Native American reservations. This is where her passion for public health and prevention blossomed. After seeing the same patients, week after week being met with severe inequities, she transitioned into public health nursing, working as a public health regional manager for the South Dakota Department of Health. In that time, she earned her Masters of Public Health with an emphasis in policy and administration from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.

In the spring of 2016, she moved back home to Wisconsin to assume the role of CEO at Healthfirst Network; a non-profit reproductive health and WIC clinic serving nine counties in central Wisconsin. The transition has allowed her to focus on her true passions: reproductive health and maternal and child health. Jessica is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration, specializing in leadership.